7 December, 2017


If you shop at M&S, you’ll be familiar with our in-store equipment and technology. But nothing stands still for ever. We’re constantly striving to find the latest technology to make the shopping experience easier.

Meet Eleanor. She’s a Project Manager in our Payment Experience team based at our Head Office in Paddington, London. Her role revolves around new processes for payment methods that we are hoping to introduce in our stores. She also works with our Learning & Development team to create supportive materials to help stores deliver a consistent customer experience. When we rolled out our new self-checkout tills, Eleanor created a training video for stores to help our customers.

“M&S always tries to prioritise the customer and make sure they are getting the best possible experience,” she says. “While the whole world seems to have gone online, we want to preserve our stores – they’re embedded in M&S history. But while cherishing our heritage, we’re coming up with new ways to make the store experience more enjoyable, to give customers something they wouldn’t expect and to improve the lives of our colleagues. Customers and the market can be unpredictable so we can’t plan too far head – that’s when your creativity comes in handy.”

Project Manager. Head office. It’s easy to assume that Eleanor is behind a desk all day, but that’s not the case. “We get out on the ground, visiting stores on a regular basis as it’s important to understand what our store colleagues and customers are experiencing. We can often pick up issues before they escalate and sort them out.”

Eleanor joined us a year ago with a geography degree and a background in hospitality and events rather than retail. She wanted a graduate scheme that provided a series of rotations that would enable her to get an all-round exposure to how a big business works. She wanted the possibility of gaining international experience – “going to somewhere like Hong Kong, Australia or Singapore would be a dream for me”. And she wanted to be part of an ethical company that had a long-standing reputation for sustainability and supporting charities.

M&S ticked all these boxes. In the past year, Eleanor has delivered significant projects which have received great feedback from colleagues. We’ve helped Eleanor’s development with in-house courses, support to take external exams in project management, a nominated sponsor with whom Eleanor can discuss future roles or ways to overcome any gaps in her skills, as well as a line manager and buddy.  “It’s quite a big step up from being a graduate, so with a year under my belt now, not much fazes me.”

So what has been Eleanor’s standout moment in her year with us? That comes back to one of the charities we support: the annual Macmillan Campaign, ‘September Coffee Morning’. “As a graduate, I was tasked with getting over 300 cakes to the London Eye from Paddington in under an hour,” she says. It was a real challenge but rewarding to have done it. It proved I could deliver under pressure, even if it meant sitting in a lorry wearing a high-vis jacket while in heels!”

Those contestants on The Apprentice really do have it easy…

Find out more about graduate opportunities here.

Inside M&S